Horizon:Volume 4B Chapter 45
Chapter 45: Spectator of a Breathtaking View
It is something you can never see
It is a reflection of your heart
When leaving a place of realization
Point Allocation (Gaze)
Narimasa saw Fuwa approaching him.
She was looking out at the hulk falling toward a frost-covered forest a few kilometers away.
“Huh? …Shibata isn’t with you? I caught a glimpse of him from the other side.”
“Oh, he said that big thing crashing would send all the animals running from the forest, so he went out to hunt.”
“He always feeds the officers first, doesn’t he? …Oh, but with Lady Oichi here, we might get more than just salted meat, so maybe this will be good.”
“Anyway, why are you here? You look like you’re about to trip with every step.”
“I’m not going to trip,” said Fuwa as she arrived at his side, crouched down, took a breath, and paused before saying more. “It was a rush, but we’ve got a connection. Matsu put in a lot of work, so make sure to thank Maeda.”
“You did what you could too, right? Don’t give Toshi and Matsu all the credit. It’s not like you have that much credit to call your own.”
“Ahh, you’re really good at thoughtlessly hurting people’s feelings, you know that?”
Fuwa lowered her crouching hips onto the snow and Narimasa frowned.
“Oh, I’m fine, I’m fine. Unlike yesterday, I’m wearing waterproof tights.”
“Your ass’ll still get cold.”
“Girls’ tights are insulated. P.A. Oda does work in the desert too.”
Narimasa looked toward Sviet Rus and heard something move toward him in the snow at his feet.
“Sassa, are you worried about the people from Musashi?”
“Is anyone in P.A. Oda not?”
“I’m not.” Fuwa wrapped her arms around her knees. “I wonder what will happen once this invasion into Sviet Rus is over.”
“I wouldn’t know. Go ask Toshi or Hashiba.”
“You do too know.” Fuwa pointed her glasses to the north while still holding her knees. “The Testament descriptions say Akechi rebels against our master while we’re invading Sviet Rus. But Shibata’s forces can’t return to avenge our master and get taken out by Hashiba. And…”
Did you know this?
“One theory in the Testament descriptions says I die before that. From illness.”
“You got the lowest scores of any of the officers in this year’s athletic test, but you got ‘excellent’ on everything but vision on the health examination. There’s no way you’re dying of illness.”
“That would normally be something to worry about. Oh, but you were that curious about my scores?”
“No, Old Man Akechi was really envious of your blood pressure and everyone else with awful scores got jealous when they saw your data. That’s when I saw it.”
“…Was it that fun to look at it all?”
“Takigawa and Tanba got really depressed and started pinching at their stomach when they saw your waist measurement, but I guess some people probably enjoyed it.”
“So that’s why they started touching me a lot and asking me what I eat back at the start of spring. But I’ve never really worried about it too much.”
“That’s the worst part. You’re the indoor type, yet it doesn’t negatively impact you in the slightest. Takenaka asked Hashiba if they could clone your organs and donate them toward the advancement of medical science.”
“Hmm. I don’t really get it, but I am thankful my parents gave me such a good body,” said Fuwa. “But historically, I’m supposed to be sickly.”
“Yeah, supposed to be.”
“So if I do ‘die’, I think I’ll retire.”
“Ah? You won’t be coming with us? You could inherit another name or stick with us as a normal student.”
“Do you want me to?”
“Having you around is a huge help. It means I don’t have to manage my finances.”
“Hmm,” thought Fuwa when he responded so readily. She added a second “hmm” before responding. “If anything, you should probably use more of your money.”
“I don’t really care about fashion and I’m never at home.”
“No, not that. I mean use it on other people. Like your subordinates or the residents of your territory.”
“I thought I was…”
He scratched his head and Fuwa smiled bitterly.
“I more or less know you want to do that kind of thing and that’s why Maeda and I arrange for it, but you should use more money on publicly supporting your people instead of ‘watching over them from the shadows’.”
“That sounds like a pain, so you do it.”
“You’re better at that kind of thing than me, right? So take care of it.”
He said it with a sigh and then he took a breath.
He looked to Honjou Shigenaga’s fleet leaving toward Sviet Rus.
“Well, either way, it’s almost time for war. This one should be pretty exciting in a number of ways, so I need to give it my all. Fuwa, you get ready too, okay?”
“Shaja. But that battle looked like something of a diversion, don’t you think?”
Fuwa nodded and opened an insha kotob. She looked west where a black form hung in the distant sky.
It was Novgorod.
Narimasa followed Fuwa’s gaze and saw the floating city that had led them here.
But Fuwa suddenly moved her head to swing her gaze from Novgorod to up overhead.
He did the same and saw a ship arriving. It was the ship that had been flying along with Marfa. The hulk had fallen into the forest and could not turn back, but the other ship that had picked her and the others up was slowly turning back toward Novgorod while showing itself to them.
Fuwa spoke while listening to the sound of the wind overhead.
“A single diplomatic ship entered Novgorod while we were monitoring the mayoress’s battle. And that ship arrived on a course from the M.H.R.R. Protestants. …Sakuma was tracking it, but he had to keep his distance after a warning from Tomoe Gozen.”
“What nation would be sending a diplomatic ship to Novgorod now?”
“Holland,” said Fuwa calmly. “I’m sensing something strange going on behind the scenes. If this is the guest Marfa mentioned, then she must have known this would happen.”
“Did she also predict Musashi would interfere with the three nations? I don’t get this,” honestly admitted Narimasa. “Musashi is rumored to be starting a special student general assembly and their Vice Chancellor was attacked, so they’re effectively in a state of insurrection. And yet they keep intervening in the most pain-in-the-ass ways.”
“You couldn’t find the Vice Chancellor?”
That question came from an elevated location. Sign frames created an artificial sky inside the Ariake and that sky’s sunset was coloring the bridge to the main entrance of Musashi Ariadust Academy.
Ookubo stood there with a red stole draped over her summer uniform and she was speaking into the sign frame next to her, but it was only text that answered her.
While looking at her own sign frame to the right, Kanou supplemented the words from the unspeaking responder.
“Milady, I have confirmed that the Vice Chancellor was seen returning to the Ariake from Mito. She then received treatment at the Asama Shrine’s medical facility, but we do not know where she went after that. After double checking, I have confirmed that the Vice Chancellor was seen returning to the Ariake from Mito. She then-…”
“Kanou-kun, you don’t have to get stuck in a loop.”
Kanou bowed and Ookubo nodded back before crossing her arms.
“This isn’t good. We messed up with the Secretary, but we have to do things right with the Vice Chancellor.”
“Judge. I have determined our reputation is on the line. I will instruct them to continue the search.”
“That’s right,” agreed Ookubo.
She faced forward.
From the bridge, she could see the entire Musashi contained in the dock’s internal land port. People and gods of war were working all over the ship and the long and wide blocks that had been empty recently were rapidly filling in.
She then spoke to no one in particular.
“Hey. Am I doing the wrong thing here?”
“I have determined you are not as long as you are capable of asking yourself that. Of course, that does not apply to those who only make a show of asking themselves and unquestioningly believe they are right in their heart.”
“True enough.” Ookubo smiled bitterly and shut her eyes. “But I still want to give voice to my concerns.”
“What happened when the Musashi was on its way to England.”
Until recently, where she had been back then had been visible from here.
“The engine division… The gravitational acceleration wing on Murayama’s port side.”
When the ship had accelerated using gravitational cruising, the Representative Committee had been running around. To preserve the safety of the wide blocks, they had been placing atmospheric fixation spell charms on the houses and buildings and adjusting the valves for the ether pathways. Those jobs were technically under the jurisdiction of the Living Committee, but the Representative Committee was in charge of the wide blocks containing student dorms and the houses of alumni and parents.
Once the spell was atmospherically protecting a wide block, no one could get inside, so she had needed to travel along the outer walls. She had used the wide and long blocks of the exterior transport district to reach the neighboring line of wide blocks, but…
“Did you know?”
I can’t keep that hint of excitement from my voice, thought Ookubo as she spoke to Kanou.
“When the outer hull opens up for gravitational cruising, a huge row of torii-style accelerator blocks comes into view. And when they glow, all the water surrounding the ship is swept away.”
Ookubo spread her arms a little.
“It’s all surrounded by mist in an instant. It’s a breathtaking view.”
“You love the Musashi, don’t you?”
Kanou’s words briefly froze Ookubo’s movements and expression.
There was no point in hiding it and she was not even sure if there was enough there to hide, but she decided to be a little stubborn regardless.
“It’s not the Musashi I love. …As much of a pain as it is, I just love all of those scenes where you can see the Far East’s history on the move. I especially love the ones I run into and realize that only I’ve noticed the turning point there.”
At that time, she had inappropriately realized that only she was gasping and viewing that breathtaking view. But…
“If it wasn’t for that shellfire, that is…”
Perhaps it had been punishment. No, the conflict with Tres España had been official and the shellfire that damaged the Musashi had been deemed part of that official conflict. But the Musashi had still been broken, and…
“There were a lot of injuries.”
Her position as a double inherited name holder had not helped in the slightest.
…It was entirely meaningless.
The officers and the transport ship sent out to counterattack had left the Musashi and they had lived apart for a while afterwards.
That may have been why she had thought something for what was likely the first time.
…There are some things not even an inherited name holder or anyone else can fight.
There was a type of power that forced helplessness onto people and rendered all resistance futile.
“It isn’t violence, political power, or public opinion. …You can simply call it the history left behind which encompasses all of that.”
It swallowed up all else and set everything in motion.
It included the circumstances, the flow of time, the preparations, and the movement of the people.
There were times when it all complexly intertwined and left one unable to do anything but accept the violence, political power, and public opinion they should have been able to resist.
In that case, thought Ookubo. It isn’t the violence, the political power, or the public opinion that’s so frightening.
It was losing the chance to resist all that. That was difficult to sum up in a single word, but…
…Perhaps I should call it “destiny”.
Ookubo spoke her next thought aloud.
“I suppose that unopposable destiny accumulates to form what we call history.”
“Judge.” Kanou nodded and spoke calmly. “I define history as something people create and assisting people is the greatest task of an automaton. Saying that history is created by inevitable destiny and not people’s wills would affect my raison d’etre as an automaton.”
Ookubo turned toward her and swung her left hand upwards.
The sheathed sword she had grabbed at some point whipped up the wind, flipping up Kanou’s skirt. Kanou quickly pushed the skirt back down with her left hand, but she still frowned.
Her tone was asking for the meaning of that and Ookubo reacted with a gentle movement.
“Well? Could you resist that?”
Kanou was correct. She shook her head and corrected her posture.
“I could not resist it. I could only reduce the damage it caused as much as possible.”
“I’m the same. That was all I could do when that shell hit.”
Ookubo said something she had said to Kanou many times before.
“People can ‘cause’ things on their own, but they cannot know what will ‘happen’ to them ahead of time and they cannot act in advance to stop it from happening. And when what happens to them is caused by many factors and not just an individual’s will, the level of impossibility only rises.”
“Is that why the world in motion is such a breathtaking view?”
Ookubo looked down at the expanse of colors before her. Kanou instantly stepped forward and flipped up Ookubo’s skirt.
Ookubo was speechless, so Kanou nodded and spoke.
“I have determined that is a breathtaking view, milady.”
Kanou swiftly jumped back and Ookubo took a half step after her and whipped up the wind again. Kanou landed while holding her side skirt in place.
“Not bad, milady!”
Without replying, Ookubo tried to flip up Kanou’s skirt to make absolutely sure she won, but instead she had her own flipped up, putting her one point behind.
It was silly, but she could lose herself in it as long as she knew that. So she and Kanou used the full bridge to take positions against each other.
She spun around, rushed in, and pushed at the outer edge of her opponent’s knee so the knee would collapse.
But when her opponent lowered her hips and moved back, she started to circle behind her to get the automaton to pursue her. She thought she had the perfect shot and whipped up the wind, but the automaton easily avoided it. But…
That maid automaton was excellent at inventing ways to get her to take a break.
Ookubo was the politician type, but that was why moving her body made for a nice change of pace. As a result, she had learned martial arts and how to use a sword. Those abilities had come in handy when gaining her double inherited name.
But besides that, moving her body was fun and she upped her speed with nothing on her mind besides capturing Kanou.
“Is this how it works!?”
Both Ookubo and Kanou had the sides and backs of their skirts flipped up at once.
It had happened without warning, but…
There was a reason for Ookubo’s confusion. She and Kanou were facing each other. To flip up both their skirts, someone would have needed to instantly circle behind both her and Kanou. And do it fast enough that they did not notice.
She only knew one person here who could do that.
Kanou was cautious of the swordswoman in a track suit.
Oriotorai was a teacher sent here by the Teachers League, so she was obligated to remain impartial in student affairs. Especially when it came to conflicts. But…
…She teaches Class 3-Plum which includes both the Student Council and the Chancellor’s Officers.
Most teachers used the first year to teach the basics and the second year to begin with practice and applications of that, but Kanou had determined that Class 3-Plum’s skill and knowledge of combat went beyond that of those who had already completed their third year.
…And I have determined that their political and debating skills have grown quite a bit thanks to the students like Honda Masazumi.
In other words, the teacher who had trained their enemy stood before them.
That was why Kanou stood between Oriotorai and Ookubo. Holding her hands together in front of her waist would be the standard pose, but she let them dangle at her sides this time.
She then gave a quick bow without taking her eyes off the woman and asked a question.
“Do you have business with Lady Ookubo, Oriotorai-sensei?”
“Sort of.” Oriotorai put a hand on her chin and faced Kanou. “About the special student general assembly. I gave it the stamp of approval and Principal Sakai gave his permission, so it’s all ready to go. Last time, Principal Sakai said he’d ‘take care of it’, but this time it’s going to be completely official.”
“Are you sure?”
“I don’t mind at all as a teacher, but it is a pain as their homeroom teacher.”
Oriotorai’s eyes and eyebrows bent in a smile and she beckoned her over.
Kanou looked back and made eye contact with Ookubo before facing Oriotorai again.
“…Do you need something?”
Oriotorai moved her face in close and pointed down.
Kanou was confused, but the woman’s expression changed to a glare.
“They haven’t been going to class at all lately, but they’re goofing off down below in the diplomatic ship’s pool. What am I supposed to do about this? Could I maybe fire a shell down at them? I really want to tell them to quit goofing off and start studying.”
“Judging from the situation, are you furious?”
“Maybe two steps away from it. I haven’t even been to the beach yet this year…”
“In the interest of self-preservation, I will nod and say that is truly unfortunate, but since it is currently afterschool, isn’t it up to the students to decide what to do?”
“So I can’t do it, huh?” sighed Oriotorai.
Then someone spoke from behind Kanou. It was Ookubo.
“You seem awfully calm, sensei. Do you trust our upperclassmen?”
“Eh? I certainly don’t trust them to behave in class or do their schoolwork, but I trust them in everything that matters. A poor student is made by a poor teacher. I’ve taught them, so of course I trust them. What about you? I know your homeroom teacher, Torii-sensei, just smiles and doesn’t get involved.”
Oriotorai smiled a little and Kanou recalled something. Ookubo’s father was a man of few words, but he had said something when he had heard about Ookubo’s decision to hold this special student general assembly.
…“Create the future.”
What had he meant? It was conceptually unclear. After all, the ability to create the future on their own contradicted the unavoidable destiny that Ookubo feared.
That may have been why Kanou asked a question without thinking.
“Oriotorai-sensei, do you think people can create the future? Or do you think human resistance is shattered by an unavoidable dest-. …That sounds a lot like something the Secretary would say. I am very sorry. What I mean is-…”
“Hey, Kanou? Ookubo?”
Oriotorai straightened up again and gave them a small smile.
“I don’t really know about that. Humans are so small, after all. But there is one thing even I can tell you.”
“Judge.” Oriotorai nodded. “Have you ever stood on the world stage to set the world in motion?”
Kanou sensed Ookubo tensing up behind her.
That may have been enough for Oriotorai.
“Good.” She put her hands on her hips. “Looks like you aren’t just trying to believe in some selfish little world you created in your imagination.”
She had one more thing to say.
“Then you’re probably going to be a lot of trouble for my kids.”
Toori: Sis! Sis! Can you tell me the layout of the Blue Thunder where mom works!?
Kimi: Heh heh heh. BL brother, you’ve been visiting there every day recently, but you’ve been dropping too many spoons to actually look around, haven’t you? Still, seeing it from above is pretty rare, so let’s go for it!
4: Back Entrance
Kimi: That’s about it. You can think of the right as toward the bow and up as toward port. The counter is to the right of the entrance and the kitchen is in the back. That at the bottom is probably a two-person table for couples.
Toori: That’s pretty normal. But with the counter closed like that, what happens if someone tries to shoplift?
Kimi: I doubt shoplifting in a closed space like the Musashi is going to end well. That said, the bread is generally sold from the window side of the counter or from a bucket on the counter, so it would be hard for it to happen in the first place.
Toori: And our mom’s a real samurai. She’ll have a ton of stuff set up, so I guess no one would be stupid enough to try it.
Kimi: Heh heh. You’re pretty worried about the family, aren’t you?
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